Kyoukai no Kanata – 02

Kyokan - 02 -3 Kyokan - 02 -11 Kyokan - 02 -19

There are certainly times when predictability isn’t such a bad thing.

I keep a notepad next to my computer on which I scribble down notes from the various anime I watch and plan to blog.  Half-an-hour ago, the two most recent entries were exactly the same although they were about different shows: “CG”.  That’s not a note I ever want to see written on there, because it’s a safe bet that most of the time the reason I find the CGI in an anime noteworthy isn’t because I intend to compliment it.  This has been a pretty crappy week for anime visuals, after last week provided a pretty exciting one – we’ve seen some really terrible CGI in series both new and old, so to say this ep of Kyoukai no Kanata was a feast for the eyes wouldn’t be an overstatement.

Kyoto Animation is nothing if not reliable.  Their shows may all look more or less the same, but it’s a good look.  It’s nice to know you’re always going to get attractive backgrounds and excellent conventional animation from them, and KyoKan is no exception.  I appreciate it all the more under these circumstances, but sometimes it’s nice to be surprised too.  That’s something that doesn’t happen too often with KyoAni shows, and it really hasn’t happened with this series as of yet.

KyoKan still falls safely in the broad “pretty good” range for me.  In blogging terms it’s probably safe, but the three-episode rule is on still on the table – the show is pretty enjoyable but I haven’t seen anything truly compelling yet.  The MC is above-average (and as usual of late, I like the work Kenn is doing) and the premise is at least different from the boilerplate KyoAni setup.  But none of the characters have really taken hold, and there’s a bit of a nebulous quality to the story – we’re getting a lot of explanations that don’t really explain anything beyond the superficialities.  As a heroine Mirai is pretty bland and cliched, and most of the supporting cast seems cast from the standard KyoAni mold.

There are a few new additions this week, though none of them especially stand out.  There’s Nase Hiromi (Suzuki Tatsuhisa), another Spirit World Warrior at school that Akihito seems to treat as if he’s someone of significance (the most notable thing for me is that he’s an absolute dead ringer for Wamiya/Takayanagi from Red Data Girl).  Then there’s the youmu appraiser Shindou Ayaka (Shindou Naomi – an interesting coincidence), who fits that bill in more ways than one – she’s a youmu who appraises other youmu, which determines how much a SWW gets paid.  Her assistant and daughter (apparently) is Ai (Yamaoka Yuri), who seems included mainly to provide a B-12 shot to the kawaii level of the series.  She provides us a little background into the mythology, responding to Mirai’s disbelief that a youmu would appraise other youmu by comparing it to humans appraising other mammals like cows and pigs.  There’s also a (highly embarrassing) holographic thought letter form Akkey’s Mom in which she warns him that a powerful youmu called the “Hollow Shadow” is on the way to town.

I’m hard-pressed to find another recent show that’s left me feeling so neutral.  KyoKan is quite pleasant, pretty to look at and modestly interesting, and I don’t dislike any of the characters strongly.  The humor is spotty but provides a few decent laughs per episode. It doesn’t annoy me and it doesn’t bore me, but it doesn’t make much of an impression either.  As much depth as the visuals have content-wise this series is very 2D.  Even the better Kyoto Animation series have, in my experience, tended to be a slow build so there’s reason to hope there might be something more here which rewards patience.  But this is a one-cour show, so the timetable for starting to reveal that something isn’t such an extended one.

Kyokan - 02 -7 Kyokan - 02 -8 Kyokan - 02 -9
Kyokan - 02 -10 Kyokan - 02 -12 Kyokan - 02 -13
Kyokan - 02 -14 Kyokan - 02 -15 Kyokan - 02 -16
Kyokan - 02 -17 Kyokan - 02 -18 Kyokan - 02 -20
Kyokan - 02 -21 Kyokan - 02 -22 Kyokan - 02 -23


  1. t

    I agree. I mean…clearly KyoAni stick to "safe play" with KNK. the regular formula works here(that's why the 3-episode wont matter cause we stick to it anyway) but I need that "spark", which you described well as 'surprise element' and let me quote you "sometimes it's nice to be surprised". that's exactly what's missing this show..cause it sticks to KyoAni formula, 1cour formula. so we don't really see (at least yet) something that really is new and refreshing under KyoAni sun. same goes for "free" of last season.
    yet of course the show is enjoyable, a bit interesting and looks pretty good.
    even the characters, not only design, but behavior..reminds other anime characters of KyoAni animes.
    if you ask me, they should take example from Hyouka, it had a refreshing concept which well established in first episodes (although it ended up being 2cour but nevermind).

    obviously I'll keep following but I want that…spark or refresh scent.

  2. N

    Main character was designed to be a hybrid of Kyon and Koyomi Araragi, no wonder he's not *that* much of an idiot.

  3. i

    I made the mistake of dropping Hyouka before it hit its stride because I felt bored at times and annoyed. I feel interested at some level to KnK and the annoyance is really only in the 5-6 moe moments in the show. That combined with this great animation and 1-cour timing means I'll stay more or less in the good zone for the run of the series. For me there's only one difference between a show like KnK and Tokyo Ravens – Dat animation. If not for that I might have put it down as well.

    @Nic the MC just looks like less well built and less fluorescent version of a Free! character to me.

  4. But he doesn't act anything like a Free! character. He's one of the better elements of the show so far, actually, though it's mostly just from behaving more or logically and seeming like a decent guy.

  5. i

    Looks not act. You cannot deny that character designs from Free! have hand in KnK.

  6. S

    Yes you can. They look nothing like free characters.

  7. Well, I disagree there – I think this is that lens I was talking about, that filter all KyoAni shows go through that smoothes out all their edges and makes them resemble each other. The characters designs in Free! where arguably the one element that most broke from the KyoAni norm, but even there I still see a strong resemblance.

  8. s

    I wouldnt say the resemblance is strong with free (I do agree that the resemblance is strong with their other shows; for example i see Hyoka in Kyokai); It's just that the similarity is there; At least with me, i couldnt look at Aki and be like "yup, if i look at him just right, he has a strong resemblance to a free character or the free artstyle" as like you stated free almost broke the kyoani norm. In regards to the merit of this show, from what ive seen, this series is really more of a coming-of-age story than anything else. To me, it looks like a dark tale of people (specifically aki and mirai although the other characters might get fleshed out as well) learning to pull themselves through life). The dark fantasy backdrop is nothing but frosting on the cake for this story in the same way that Hyoka was arguably just about the characters while the mystery was just frosting on the cake. Where Hyoka succeeded in my opinion, was how it presented the characters in a way you dont usually see kyo ani do and hopefully kyokai can deliver on the same front.

  9. R

    Free! Hyouka and Nichijou had all the same character designer.

    KnK has a new gradate from KyoAni's academy

  10. You'd never be be able to guess, which I think is the point.

  11. M

    Maybe it's just me,but the comedy really isn't working for me on this one.As such,I find it better when it tries to take on a more serious aproach.I doubt they'll be able to mix in the comedy with the more serious and/or action moments too well if they haven't been able to do it so far.What's also annoying is that when it tries to set up a darker mood they kind of ruin it by trying to be funny.

  12. For me, it's hit and miss. I wouldn't say it's ruining the mood (you aren't the first person I've seen suggest that) but it isn't especially effective most of the time.

  13. Z

    An uninterrupted darker mood won't sell them BDs.

  14. F

    Well, I generally like KyoAni material, and this series is no exception. But I agree in general. Interesting, lovely animation, decent story, etc. in a definite style I enjoy. But nothing earth shaking so far. :-)

  15. R

    I'm so behind, but I really treasure the experience I have with this blog — I guess I will just get myself back on track slowly but surely.

    I'm a bit disappointed with Kyoukai no Kanata — it feels like KyoAni is still playing with their "ultimate success formula" in a more interesting setting. It feels like events and character interactions are orchestrated with an intention to check off certain boxes, and I couldn't help but roll my eyes when the mom came on acting like a cat woman and warning her son an imminent danger without showing any concerns or care. I may be too stingy, but I don't see the ambition of creating another Hyouka and don't sense any Hyouka quality in terms characters and storytelling. I hope that I'm overacting, and I still want to be surprised — I will check out a couple more episodes, but I have a feeling that I will drop this show.

  16. Z

    Oversized cardigan girl strikes again!

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